Most people who say “I do” do not enter into the marriage with the intention of going through a divorce sometime in the future. However, over time people and behaviors change, and around 50% of marriages will end. All couples go through hard times, but there are specific signs that indicate divorce is imminent if things do not change for the better.
According to PsychCentral, there are four main predictors that marriage experts use to determine that a marriage is on shaky ground. The most significant sign is contempt towards a spouse. This is nonverbal behavior, such as sneering, eye rolling or mocking, that attacks the other with an intention to mentally abuse.
Criticism is another predictor. This is attacking the other’s character rather than putting down a certain behavior. This often leads to the other spouse getting defensive, which is a problem when it occurs regularly. Examples of defensiveness include acting like a victim, counter complaining, ignoring or whining.
The fourth divorce predictor is emotionally withdrawing in an attempt to avoid conflict. Also known as stonewalling, this can take many forms. A person may sit in stony silence, completely change the subject, give one-syllable answers or walk away from the conversation.
Reader’s Digest points out some additional obvious and less-obvious signs divorce may be on the horizon. When one spouse has multiple affairs, this is a clear sign the marriage will probably end. Another indicator is if the couple completely stops having sex. Other signs are a decrease in significant communication, a lack of respect for each other, disagreements around the topic of having kids and spending very little time together.
Couples should be aware when these signs begin to show up in the marriage. They are not deal breakers, but the couple does need to take action, by changing harmful behaviors and/or attending marriage counseling, to avoid a divorce.